The Delta Pearl 4 — Greet

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Original photo by Dan Antion. Tomfoolery by Teagan
Original photo by Dan Antion. Tomfoolery by Teagan

Welcome back to the #steampunk riverboat, my chuckaboos!  

As you know, I’m re-writing a nearly finished novel, The Delta Pearl, for this serial.  That has resulted in a few changes, such as the heroine, Émeraude, becoming several years younger.  Now both she and one of the passengers (Victor Elam — you met him last time) are in their teens.  Although Victor is a little older than Émeraude.

A story set on a riverboat will have a lot of characters.  Between the passengers and the crew, that’s unavoidable, at least when I’m telling the tale.  I’m trying to make it easier for you to keep track of all these people by how I name them.  Throughout this week, I’ve done a lot of work, renaming the passengers.  Many of you know that I put a lot of thought into names.  That’s a huge understatement. My brain is tired from it. 

I’m discouraged that four weeks into the story, we’re still meeting the passengers, but all of them have parts in the story that I don’t want to delete.  Writing serials is harder than you might think.

Photo by Dan Antion
Original Photo by Dan Antion

This week’s random reader things:

Robbie Cheadle left Hair Jewelry.  A thing from Donna ParkerLife-jacket, popped in at the last minute too.

Thanks to Dan Antion for letting me use his photos as much as I am able for this serial.  

Last time, in Chapter 3 — Face, the young inventor, Dr. Victor Elam was fussy about his luggage.  A container came loose and rolled toward Émeraude.  Victor freaked out.  Let’s get back to the Delta Pearl and find out why he was so upset.  

The #steampunk riverboat awaits…  All aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 4 — Greet

Original photo by Dan Antion, tomfoolery by Teagan
Original photo by Dan Antion, tomfoolery by Teagan

My enthusiasm about Dr. Victor Elam’s charm waned as he fussed over his baggage.

“Please, please,” the young inventor cried.  “My cameras…  Have a care!”

Well, I reminded myself, No one can be perfect.  We all have flaws.  I suppose if I owned expensive technical equipment like cameras, then I would have been upset too.

His voice went up a full octave as the metal canister came loose from the luggage cart and rolled toward me.

“Oh no!” Elam yelled.

The young inventor panicked, and that frightened me in return.

A flash of polished brass caught my eye.  I felt betrayed when metal wings darted to the canister.  The Captain must not have had much faith in me being the first face after all.  Onyx, Captain Perlog’s clockwork owl, had been discretely keeping an eye on the deck.

Pixabay
Pixabay

The owl wore a tiny top hat, set at a jaunty angle.  His eyes were bright, but dark as the black onyx for which he was named.  He hooted once then pecked at the canister.

The clockwork owl unlatched the container in a jiffy.  The seal had been so tight that I heard a little whoosh when it opened.

Elam shrieked when Onyx removed a velvet box.  The little owl had a tight grip on it.

Annoyed to realize the owl had been supervising me, I moved to grab the box from the mechanical creature.  Onyx hooted again, but he let me take the case.

Victor Elam’s spectacles were askew and his previously neat hair was disheveled.  He froze with his hands reaching toward the box.  I was surprised that he didn’t grab but he managed to stop himself from snatching the velvet box as I opened it.

Something silky fell into my hand.  It was a bracelet.  However, it was not a precious gem.  Rather it was intricately braided and knotted hair jewelry.  The bracelet was made with two different shades of brown, light and dark.  I noted that one was a match for Victor’s hair.

Bracelet made of human hair, circa 1840. Wikimedia Commons
Bracelet made of human hair, circa 1840. Wikimedia Commons Click for more info

The inventor made an embarrassed face.  Muttering an apology, he tried to explain his over-reaction.

“I know it’s just hair jewelry,” Victor began, “but this is the only personal memento I have of my parents.  They died a year ago, when their ship went down in a trans-oceanic crossing.”

I murmured my condolences to Dr. Victor Elam for the loss of his parents.  It wasn’t the first time I had found myself in a situation that called for that kind of statement.  Although, it wasn’t usually spoken to someone so close to my own age.  I couldn’t help feeling sad for him and his attachment to the keepsake.

***

More passengers came aboard.  I took a deep breath, put my even less genuine smile back on my face, and turned to greet them.

Pixabay
Pixabay

A young couple stood with their heads close together.  For a moment I thought they were making fun of Victor Elam and his worries for his luggage.  However, when they used the opportunity to steal a kiss, I realized that was not the case.  They were recently wed.

The new husband wore a neat suit with a bowler hat.  The suit was well cut and of good fabric, but it was by no means extravagant.

The wife’s blond hair was pulled up loosely except for a tail of shining ringlets.  The “follow me lads” curls dangled from beneath the wide brim of her chapeau and onto one shoulder.  The hat’s tall feather bobbed when they kissed.  They were Harrison and Hyacinth Harvey.

Shyly peeking out from behind Mr. Harrison Harvey was a ruddy complected boy with chubby cheeks and curly hair.

“And who might you be, young man?” I leaned down and asked in a sociable voice.

He mumbled something in return.  I had no idea what the boy said, but I heard a “her” sound in the middle of it, so I turned to and asked her.

“He’s your what?” I asked the young wife, Hyacinth, but her husband answered for her.

Tintype photo of boy circa 1856, Wikimedia
Tintype image of boy circa 1856, Wikimedia

“No, no.  He’s my nephew.  My elder brother’s son,” Harrison Harvey explained, with a glance at me and a glare at the boy.  “Hershel, as you’ve been told a hundred times, speak clearly.  Now introduce yourself properly to the young lady,” he told his nephew, though his voice became progressively gentler as he spoke.

There was no wonder Harrison Harvey’s instant of anger at the boy evaporated.

Who could look on that cherubic face and feel ire? I thought.

After the lad produced a proper introduction I smiled and couldn’t resist tousling his hair.

“Don’t let him fool you,” Harrison Harvey told me with a wry expression.  “He gets into more than his share of mischief.  But it’s deuced hard to scold him.  Sometimes I think he believes no one would ever batty fang him.  Although I could wish that kind of thorough thrashing on my brother for sending him with us on our honeymoon,” he muttered.

Mrs. Hyacinth Harvey seemed to take up a conversation that I must have interrupted.  She looked significantly toward the wealthy Mr. Needleman and lightly touched her husband’s arm.

“Dear, you should introduce yourself,” she told her husband, indicating the entrepreneur.

Harrison Harvey nodded to me and walked over to Randal Needleman.

Victoria-Transvaal Diamond 1951_Wikimedia
Victoria-Transvaal Diamond 1951_Wikimedia

The young bride stared at Eliza Needleman in such an openly envious fashion that it surely would have been embarrassing if the lady had noticed.

“Such butter upon bacon…  That would be worth more than the whole of my husband’s inheritance,” Hyacinth Harvey murmured as if to herself, clearly meaning the Pharaoh Diamond that hung around Mrs. Needleman’s swan-like neck.

I pretended not to hear her remark.  The statement was so crass that I felt uncomfortable and had to look away.

“We seem to have more young people onboard than usual,” I commented as a way of disengaging.

By that, I meant the youthful pair who stood a few feet away.  I turned to a nervous looking young woman.  Having done my homework, I already knew that she would be a governess traveling with her young charge, a boy in his early teens.

I prompted her to introduce herself and the boy.  The lad was reportedly from a wealthy family.  That made me expect a woman who was nearly dizzy age.  I was surprised that his parents would entrust him to such a young governess instead.

There must be some family connection.  Or there could even have been a last-minute substitution, I thought.

In a voice so quiet I could barely hear her, the governess gave her name, Azalea Morton.  She named her charge Alex Rice.

Leather folio by Dan Antion
Leather folio by Dan Antion

The boy looked as uncomfortable and uncertain as did she.  Alex clutched a leather folio to his chest and his cap was pulled down low, all but covering his eyes.

I supposed wearing a cap that way was a new fashion.  What I found more interesting was the white-knuckle grip he had on that folio.  Alex held it like a drowning man would grab a life-jacket.

Indeed, Azalea seemed too young, inexperienced, and lacking in confidence for the post as governess to such a wealthy family.  I would probably have been nervous too.

Other than that, I couldn’t put my finger on anything wrong.  Even so, there was something off kilter about those two.

***

End Chapter 4

***

We’ve finally met most of the passengers.  Although, there is one more waiting on the gangplank to board the Delta Pearl.  Frankly, I’m not too sure about any of them. Victor Elam seems like a harmless prodigy, but geniuses can cause all sorts of trouble.  And does the Harvey family seem a little greedy and possibly spoiled to you?  Then there’s the governess and her charge.  Émeraude doesn’t seem to trust them.  Of course there are the rich Needlemans and that honking big diamond as well. 

I wonder who the remaining passenger could be — and what else we’ll learn about this group…  Meet me at the riverboat dock next weekend, my chuckaboos and we’ll find out!

If you haven’t already done so — or even if you have, I invite you to leave  a random non-modern thing, to help drive the story.  Please limit your description of the “thing” to two words if possible.  Remember any technology-thing you offer needs to be appropriate to the Steam Era. 

I love hearing from you, so please leave a comment, whether or not you leave a thing.

***

Now for the obligatory shameless self-promotion…

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Dan Antion’s images Copyright ©  2019

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No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

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103 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 4 — Greet

  1. You’re always so good at developing characters Teagan – I can always picture them in my mind and have a good idea of their characteristics in my imagination – I’ve always liked stories with an ensemble cast – it’s not something I’m so good at, my stories tend to just have a few characters 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Andrea, I can’t imagine you “not so good” at any aspect of writing. Your posts and stories always leave me in amazement at your skill.
      Thank you so much for this feedback. Since I started blogging, I have put more focus on improving my character development than any other single aspect of writing. Your comment means a lot to me. Wishing you a wonder-filled autumn, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    Time to rejoin the boarding party of the Delta Pearl at the top of the gangplank, with a mixed bag of passengers that will require some wrangling and certainly keeping an eye on. A couple of them seem oddly paired and Émeraude is finding it difficult to maintain her welcoming smile for some. .head over and find out more at Teagan’s Books..

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Well no, Sally. I’m ashamed to say that I have a long way to go before I can say I’m settled in. It is a lot of work for one person, and much of it is very heavy for me, or includes bending (which kills my back). And 100 degree heat is too hot for opening the windows to paint walls. I’ve had to admit it will take me a long time. Even though that makes me feel very down on myself. I guess it will be a continuous process.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Thanks Sally. I keep telling myself (what others have told me), that I don’t have to be in a hurry, to go at my own pace. But I do get frustrated with myself, especially when I see others do so much more during the same number of months. Admittedly I don’t have the same resources, but…

              I’m trying to get motivated to put together the kitchen table. It was an accidental/mistake shipment, and not a table I would have chosen… but since I didn’t have a table, I elected to keep it. It’s not *impossible* for me to handle alone, but it’s heavier than I’d like, and bigger than I’d like (for assembling on my own), so I’ve been putting it off for 2 weeks. My holiday weekend goal is to assemble that rascal. With that the kitchen area will be finished. (Remember I couldn’t bring much with me, and brought no furniture at all.) I’ve found curtains with a retro bird design that I like. Then I did a crafty-cute treatment at the top of the window with little wooden birdhouses. (It’s a large window.) That said, I need to stop blogging and writing, and get on with the physical work. Hugs on the wing!

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Teagan, what a cast of characters boarding the Delta Pearl. I wonder about the Garvey family too, and the governess and her charge. More to be revealed in the next chapter. You’re leaving us with more questions to be answered! The mark of your good writing! Happy rest of the week. 📚🎶 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Christine. I’m delighted you are enjoying this part. I do get insecure when I’m not leaving things hanging from the edge of a cliff. LOL. May the rest of your week, be an easy coast down the other side of this hump, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am enjoying all the characters as everybody else, can’t’ wait to see what they are going to do onboard. I kept my long hair braid for many years until one day I realized it was a bit of a morbid thing to have, almost like the end of an era (and it was). I got rid of it at once.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m delighted that you are enjoying this riverboat cruise, Valentina. I’ve known of a few men who (previously had long hair) kept their ponytails. For them I think it was a statement/reminder that they had it in them to be rebellious or individual.
      Or for both men and women, as you said, an end of an era. It takes most people many years to grow their hair long. It’s natural for it to be a sentimental thing.
      Always best to keep moving forward though, my chuckaboo. And you are a great example. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoy meeting the passengers, Teagan. They’re all so distinct, and there’s something intriguing about each one. Hair-jewelry?! That’s a new one on me. It gives me the willies. Lol. Loved the new installment and can’t wait to see where it goes. Well done, my friend. Happy Writing. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Diana, I really appreciate your feedback on the characters. Yes, I put a lot of thought into making them distinct.

      My initial reaction to the hair jewelry (a grade school teacher told us about USA pioneers making jewelry and art from their hair) was that it was creepy. Now, having learned about their “memento mori photographic portraiture” (death photography) with the posing of dead loved ones and even painting eyeballs on their eyelids when they couldn’t make them open… The hair jewelry is no big deal. LOL. Weird folks, those Victorians.
      Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Adele, my chuckaboo. I’m approaching these two characters in a mindful way. I want them to be fun, not a social statement. Very early in my blogging life, a wonderful reader asked me if I would write characters like these two. At that time, I was afraid I would do something wrong (to over simplify my thoughts — and trying not to give you a spoiler). Now I’m trying, despite feeling inadequate.
      Onyx is fun to write. I’m happy he has a friend in you. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What an interesting and diverse group of passengers, Teagan. The inventor really caught my attention. I have a feeling he will be doing some alchemy while on board. 🙂 Oh! And I love that there is an Owl! Very cool stuff, my dear. I can’t wait to see what all happens to this group while on board!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jan, I’m so glad you were up to making it to the Delta Pearl today. I know you must feel like you were batty fanged within an inch of your life. If I could help take your mind off it for a few minutes, I am happy. Take good care of you, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Always a pleasure to read, Teagan. I can only imagine those initial moments of introduction leading up to traveling together. We do not often meet those we travel with these days. I love your character names. I’m still wondering what is going on with the Captain on the bridge. And those Needlemans…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the way you introduce your characters, Teagan. It may take some time, but it’s fun and it will be good to know them better when they step into the limelight. One more, huh? It will be interesting to who walks up the gangplank before it gets raised.

    I hope you have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really appreciate that Dan. You know how worried I get about whether it’s interesting enough without an action scene. I’m not sure whether the last passenger is good, bad, or what, but his sideburns give me the creeps. LOL. Just a matter of personal taste there.
      Thanks for all your support, my chuckaboo! I’ll be over to your virtual beer post soon. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I was thrown off by the hair jewelry. I thought it was going to be jewelry for the hair, not made from hair!! What an unusual keepsake!! This is the first time I’ve heard of the practice.

    It’s an interesting and unusual cast of characters. Looking forward to the adventures ahead 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so good to see you, Joanne. I had learned about the “pioneers” in the USA making hair jewelry and art, but it was not until I started writing the first “Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers” serial several years ago, that I learned it was a widespread Victorian custom. Hair jewelry was one of the less creepy of the several “unique” Victorian customs. The people of that era were certainly interesting. Heartfelt thanks for visiting, my chuckaboo!

      Like

      1. I suppose it isn’t any worse than carrying a chunk of hair in a locket … and how many mothers have kept their children’s teeth after they’ve come out? On the other hand, I haven’t heard of any practice of making a piece of jewelry from children’s teeth 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha! Let’s hope not. Although that’s no worse than their “memento mori photographic portraiture” (death photography) with the posing of dead loved ones and even painting eyeballs on their eyelids when they couldn’t make them open… Weird folks, those Victorians.

          Like

  10. This is quite a collection of passengers and they ALL seem a bit off-kilter to me! Lol. So many mysteries building up, it will be fun to see where you go with them Teagan. I like the names you give these characters. I have a feeling the last passenger is going to be a doozy!
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I enjoyed meeting the passengers, but I need to confess that I smuggled one more on board. Kindly meet Sir Reginald La Felin. He doesn’t eat much, but he might be a holy terror at the gambling table.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi GP. Oh I am a smitten kitten with Sir Reginald! DL Finn had left “black cat” as a thing. I kept trying to work that (although as a clockwork black cat) into this chapter and it just wasn’t furthering the story. So I went with Robbie’s hair jewelry.
      Maybe the Cook (Agate) has a ginger kitty like this one. I can imagine her tossing him tidbits.
      Or perhaps he belongs to the Dealer (Jaspe) who has been a bad influence on the tabby, teaching him to gamble! 😀
      Thanks so much for visiting, my chuckaboo! You’re the cat’s meow!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love the period expressions, Onyx, of course (I love owls, even clockwork ones) and I’m looking forward to meeting the last passenger. Great episode, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL…I’ always concerned that someone will show up with a remark about a character and say, “Hey, that’s my name!” Tim, your comment is (fortunately) as close to that as I’ve come.

      The name was originally Ritchie. When I was researching real life Victorians (3 years ago) for name inspiration, I ran into both Ritchie and Rice. There was some kind of connection with “Rice” (not necessarily bad — I don’t remember what it was now) that caused me to not use it.
      Then with this rewrite, in a serial I was afraid readers would confuse “Ritchie” with the rich Needleman couple. I also originally had characters Grant (Mr. Harvey’s original name) and Garnet. Not related at all, but I felt the names were too similar for a serial.
      The name I really hated to give up was Exilda (a real Victorian and I loved the name), but I worried it would be confused with Eliza (Needleman).
      Heartfelt thanks for reading and commenting. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alex Rice has a good ring to it. Interesting about Alex is in 2003 I gave him a project to develop a web-based mapping application to put GIS projects we were doing on the web. He came up with a really nice solution, but there were a lot of changes in server operating systems back then with updates coming out left and right in the Linux OS wars. The web-mapping app he developed would break with each new update. After he left in 2004, the next programmer I hired didn’t understand mapping systems, and I didn’t have time to fix the app and further develop it when it broke after every update. I couldn’t convince the president of the company to let me hire another programmer to work on the web-map project, because he didn’t see much use for it. We had full-time GIS staff at that time. So my web-map project died. MapQuest was the main map company on the web at that time. Google came out with Google Maps in 2005. In 2012, a client wanted maps included in the web-app we were developing for them, so the president asked the status of my web maps project. “Long dead” I told him. He asked if I could resurrect it. “No way.” I told him. I wrote the web-map apps using Google Maps for the base maps. Since then many clients have wanted web-based maps. I also use OpenStreetMaps for web-map applications these days. Now that our clients want web maps, we no longer have full-time GIS staff. I didn’t hear from Alex for years, but then, he called me a couple of years ago to let me know he’d quit programming and gone into GIS. I guess that early web-mapping experience got him hooked.

        Liked by 1 person

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